Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Landscape of Flavors Breakfast -- Disney's Art of Animation Resort

I was really in the mood for gluten free beignets at Disney World this morning, but I resisted, and tried something new for breakfast.  I have been to Landscape of Flavors in Disney's Art of Animation Resort for lunch and dinner, but never for breakfast.  You can read my previous review here.  

I love the theming of Disney's newest resort.  Everything is so bright and colorful!    

Landscape of Flavors is a quick service restaurant with several food stations.  Right away, I found a cast member who was not serving food, and asked to speak to a chef.  

Chef Tony offered me options from every station, like gluten free pancakes, waffles, and french toast.  

On my previous visit for lunch, the chef I spoke to mentioned that he could make me an omelet, since breakfast service was just ending.  

I was a little shocked about the gluten free french toast.  I don't know if I have ever been offered french toast at a Disney restaurant before.  Chef Tony told me that it is made with Udi's bread.  

I ended up ordering what I came for -- the gluten free character waffles.  At first, I was a little disappointed that Landscape of Flavors is not using Cup 4 Cup Pancake & Waffle Mix like Port Orleans.  You can read my review of gluten free Mickey waffles made with Cup 4 Cup here.  

Chef Tony told me that the chefs at Landscape of Flavors use a blend of Bob's Red Mill and Namaste Pancake & Waffle Mix, and that the waffles are made on separate waffle irons to avoid cross contamination. 

My Flounder and Ariel waffles might be the best gluten free waffles that I have had on Disney property! 

They were slightly crispy on the outside, and perfectly cooked on the inside, just like I like them.  They tasted great dipped in some melted butter and syrup.  Plus, look at how cute they are!  The turkey bacon I ordered with them was pretty amazing.  I wish all Disney breakfast spots served it.  Chef Tony also offered me a choice of chicken sausage and fresh fruit, but I had eaten a bowl of strawberries at home before taking my daughters to school.  I was impressed with the fruit selection at Landscape of Flavors.  The raspberries and kiwi looked amazing!  Next time, I might order some fresh fruit with my waffles too.  

After my amazing breakfast, I headed over to Fort Wilderness to take a long walk in the shade.  On mornings like this, I am extra thankful to live so close to Disney World!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Gluten Free on the Disney Dream

Last week, we took our 5th cruise on the Disney Dream.  You can view my previous post about dining gluten free on the Disney Cruise Line here.  We have always taken the 3 night cruise in the past, but on this trip, we had four nights on the Dream.  

We boarded the ship so early, Cabanas, our usual lunch spot, was not even open.  While my daughters and their cousins impatiently waited at the front of the buffet, I started to look for a chef.  The chef I spoke to pointed out gluten free options on the buffet for me, and brought me a plate of french fries from neighboring Flo's Cafe.  On the first day of our cruise, I did take salmon, lamb chops, chicken, and steak from the buffet, because it had just opened, but on the second day, I asked for food from the back because of cross contamination concerns.  I was offered Enjoy Life Soft Baked Snickerdoodle Cookies at the dessert station, but when I inquired if any of the desserts on display were gluten free, I was told that I could eat the chocolate mousse.  

Cabanas always has two meats at the carving station, and on both days we dined there for lunch, I was told the meat was gluten free.  On day two, I sampled the beef, which might have been my favorite beef dish of the cruise.  I also really enjoyed the polenta cakes, which I have had on previous cruises.  

After our first lunch, I stopped in at the Enchanted Garden on Deck 2 to pre-order my dinner, a suggestion made to me on our last cruise.  I was shown the menu for Animator's Palate, where we would be dining that first night, I chose what I wanted to eat, and a food ticket was filled out by the head server I spoke to.  

That night at dinner, I was dreading being served the poorly heated Ener-G rolls that I was used to from previous cruises, but I was in for a surprise.  The bread I received was heated well and tasted pretty good.  I think it was Ener-G bread, but the shape was different than previous cruises.   One night of our cruise, the bread was not prepared well, so our assistant server whisked it away and reappeared with perfectly heated rolls about 5 minutes later.  

None of the appetizers at Animator's Palate appealed to me, so I ordered two choices from the soups & salads portion of the menu.  Feel free to mix and match from the menu and order multiple appetizers, soups & salads, main courses, or desserts.  My extended family certainly did this, especially my brother!  My bowl of baked potato and cheddar cheese soup tasted nothing like potato, cheese, or bacon, so I told my server.  Twenty minutes later, I had a much improved bowl of soup.  I also ordered the roasted red bell pepper, zucchini and red onion salad, minus the onions.  For a main course, I chose the seared red snapper with scallops, crushed new potatoes and salsa verde.   Dessert is usually a mystery, because you don't get to pre-order it, but I figured I would be receiving the gluten free chocolate cake I had been served on previous cruises.  This time, it was served with fresh strawberries and a strawberry sauce.  Nothing about my meal at Animator's Palate wowed me, but I certainly didn't go hungry.  

Of the three main dining rooms that serve dinner on rotational dining, I had my best meal at the Enchanted Garden.  I started off with a cucumber garden roll, followed by an incredibly delicious spinach & raspberry salad.  My main course, the marjoram scented all natural chicken with baked crushed sweet potatoes, spinach and thyme, and red wine chicken jus was pretty amazing.  I also enjoyed my apple cinnamon sundae.  

At the Royal Palace, I skipped the appetizer course again, and ordered the leek & potato soup, and the red wine bosc pear salad from the Soup & Salad portion of the menu.  I enjoyed my soup and salad, but was disappointed that my Chateaubriand-Roasted Filet Steak was served with mustard on it, which I don't eat.  My green beans had no butter on them, like others at my table, and my crushed new potatoes were dry.  I would have sent the whole dish back if I had not been so full from my brunch at Palo, which you can read about here.  I know my serving team would have replaced my meal if I had notified them that I did not like it.  Howard (server), Didit (assistant server), and Ronald (head server) did an amazing job, and my whole family loved them.  It's great that your serving team moves with you in rotational dining, and they were aware that I could not eat gluten before they even met me, because my travel agent made note of it in our reservation.  I love the Tahitian vanilla creme brulee at at the Royal Palace, so my meal ended on a good note.

We ate breakfast at the Royal Palace every morning, except the day we arrived back at Port Canaveral.  This was the first cruise where I was asked by my server the night before if I would like to pre-order breakfast.  For the first morning, I choose gluten free pancakes, sausage & bacon, and they added a muffin and a donut.  I pre-ordered poached eggs, bacon and sausage for the second morning.  For our last breakfast at the Royal Palace, I chose scrambled eggs, because we were having brunch at Palo, and I didn't want to eat too much food.  Every morning, I also requested a bowl of fruit.  On the morning we arrived back at Port Canaveral, we ate a quick breakfast up in Cabanas, where I just had some fruit.  I was a little tired of eating by that point.  

For lunch on Castaway Cay, Disney's private island, I did not pre-order anything because our head server said he would be working there that day and would take care of me.  I found Ronald at Cookies, and he made me up a plate of ribs, chicken, and corn.  He also gave me a plate of Enjoy Life Snickerdoodle Cookies.  I love the fruit on the island, which includes three of my favorites, papaya, mango and pineapple.  I also snagged a bag of Lay's potato chips, which are labeled gluten free.  

Ronald also let me know that all of the soft serve on the Disney Dream and Castaway Cay is gluten free.  

Some final Disney Cruise Line (DCL) tips for you:

  • Book your next cruise while on the ship.  You will save 10%, and the cruise can be switched to another date or canceled after you get off the ship.  
  • Use a travel agent, so you get extra stateroom credits.  When we book our next cruise at the Future Cruise Desk, we mention our travel agent.  
  • Don't forget to bring warm clothes.  The ship can be quite chilly.  
  • On the first day of your cruise, pre-order your dinner ASAP.  I visited the Enchanted Garden, the only rotational dining restaurant that was open for lunch.  
  • Be your own best advocate.  If you don't like your food, send it back or ask for something else.  Your service team is there to make your cruise an amazing experience.  
  • At buffets, ask to speak to a chef and don't be afraid to ask for food from the back.  
  • If you have time, don't miss the the Making of the Dream and the Art of the Theme Show Tour.  
  • Definitely don't miss the evening entertainment if this is your first cruise -- Disney's Believe, The Golden Mickeys, and our favorite, Villains Tonight!  We also had a chance to see The Magic & Illusion of Jason Bishop.  His show was impressive.  
  • I suggest requesting the main seating for dinner unless you like dining well after 8:00.  
  • We always bring our Tervis Tumblers or reusable water bottles, and we refill them with water on the pool deck.  We never pay for bottled water on the ship or on Castaway Cay, where you can get free fountain drinks and water at Cookies.  
  • If you have a chance, dine at Palo.  It's amazing!  
I hope in the future that Disney Cruise Line will start marking gluten free items on menus and buffets, and serving gluten free Mickey waffles.  Overall, DCL does a great job with special diets, just like Disney World and Disneyland.  I know I don't ever need to bring food with me on the ship or to the parks, because Disney chefs take such great care of me!  

We are really looking forward to our 7 night cruise on the Disney Magic in December!  Please comment and share your experiences on the Disney Cruise Line below.  

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Tony's Town Square Restaurant -- Magic Kingdom

After spending Saturday morning and early afternoon helping my daughters get caught up on their school work from being away for a week, we decided to head to Disney World.  I was able to reserve some FastPasses on My Disney Experience App, but had no luck booking advance dining reservations.   

When we got to the Magic Kingdom at 4:10, we stopped in at Tony's Town Square Restaurant, and had no problem getting a table when the restaurant opened at 4:30.  

While we waited, I took some pictures.  We have never eaten at Tony's Town Square Restaurant, so this was my first time seeing it.  

The restaurant is beautiful, and I love the Lady and the Tramp theming.  

In the movie, Tony's Town Square Restaurant is where Lady and the Tramp had their first kiss.  

The restaurant is located on Main Street, U.S.A., near the entrance of the Magic Kingdom.   

Right away, a chef came out to speak to me about gluten free options.  For appetizers, I could choose from the Tomato and Mozzarella Salad, Seasonal Melon with Prosciutto, Caesar Salad, or the Mixed Greens Salad.  

Main courses that were gluten free or could be modified to be gluten free include the cioppino, spaghetti with turkey meatballs, chicken parmigiana, New York strip steak, grilled pork tenderloin, and the shrimp scampi. 

Disney World, like the Disney Cruise Line, appears to be using a new gluten free bread.  It tastes like EnerG, which is what I think it is, but the shape is a little different than what I am used to.  When heated properly, it is pretty good.  I tried the oil, but much preferred the bread with butter.

My daughter Katie ordered the tomato and mozzarella salad.  It came with a piece of bread that she removed without my asking so I could take a picture.  So sweet of her!  

For a main course, I decided on the grilled pork tenderloin with creamy polenta and seasonal vegetables, which happened to be broccolini.  I really enjoyed this dish, and would order it again.  

For dessert, I ordered the pistachio creme brulee, which was delicious.  You can view the recipe here.

I am not totally sold on the new FastPass system, but sometimes, it has its perks, like when you decide to go to a Disney Park on a whim later in the day.  I was able to book FastPasses for three of our favorite rides, so after dinner, we walked around, rode some rides, and avoided waiting in lines.  

We were able to get a glimpse of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train running last night, but had no luck taking a picture of the cars.  This new roller coaster in Fantasyland should be open by the end of May, according to the cast member we spoke to.

You can make advance dining reservations for Tony's Town Square Restaurant up to 180 days in advance, and they accept Tables in Wonderland.  The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner.  You can view Tony's Town Square Restaurant's menu here.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Palo Brunch -- Disney Cruise Line

My husband and I dined at Palo for brunch on our most recent cruise on the Disney Dream.  Palo is an adults-only restaurant serving Northern Italian cuisine on the Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, and Disney Fantasy.  Palo serves dinner every night from 6 to 9 pm, but only serves brunch while the ship is out at sea during Disney four night and longer cruises.  The dining charge is $25 per person for brunch.  You can read my review of Palo for dinner here.  

After having a huge dinner at Palo the night before, my husband and I weren't too excited to go to Palo for brunch.  We had already been overeating for three days at that point and were a little wary of eating another big meal.  

As it turned out, our brunch at Palo was my favorite meal of the cruise.  We were excited to have Alex as our server again, and to have some quiet time without the kids, enjoying these beautiful ocean views.  

My brunch started with a complimentary mimosa, then Alex found the chef, who gave me a tour of the buffet and talked to me about the gluten free options.  

The chef told me that they could make me any of the pizzas on an Udi's pizza crust.  

I didn't take a picture of the table filled with pastries and fruit, which was off limits because of gluten or cross contamination concerns, but I was offered fruit from the back if I wanted it.  I could have anything on the table pictured above, which contained shrimp, smoked salmon, crab legs, seared ahi tuna with arugula salad, Bloody Mary shots with baby shrimp, roasted potatoes, green beans, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, mozzarella balls, and sea scallops.  

The next table was also full of gluten free choices like Italian meats, Caprese salad, eggplant wrapped feta cheese, marinated olives, hummus, grilled vegetables, marinated artichokes, and prosciutto wrapped melon & asparagus.  

This large table also had lettuce, dressings, caviar, grated egg yolks & egg whites, and chives & shallots to choose from.  

The next display contained sample meals that could be made up for us in the back, like seared tilapia and risotto, and smoked salmon or pesto pasta dishes.  

The chef said he could make me gluten free pancakes, or any of the egg dishes with gluten free bread.  

I would have loved to have tried the chilled strawberry soup, but I forgot about it until after we had eaten dessert, and by then, I was too full.  

While the chef made some dishes for us in the back, I enjoyed a plate of grilled vegetables, marinated olives, Caprese salad, and some Italian meats.  I added a little hummus or pesto to almost everything on my plate, and enjoyed it all!  

I also liked the roasted potatoes and the eggplant wrapped feta.  

Palo's gluten free pizza is pretty impressive.  It was good both hot and cold.  

My husband and I ordered half Margherita and half spicy Italian sausage.  

When our gluten free spaghetti with pesto arrived, I must admit that I was a little bit skeptical because of how heavily it appeared to be sauced, but it was delicious, especially eaten right on top of my Margherita pizza.  

I was shocked when my husband said that the seared tilapia and risotto might be his favorite fish dish of the cruise.  Usually, he ranks ahi tuna above everything else.  

The piece de resistance of this meal was definitely the desserts.  Everything else was delicious, but the desserts were just amazing!  The pastry chef told me that three desserts from the dessert table were gluten free, and of course I had to try them all.  I started with the Chocolate Pot de Creme, which was ridiculously good.  Usually, I like vanilla ice cream or whipped cream with my chocolate desserts, but this pot de creme was perfect as is.  Next, I tried the mixed berries compote, made with Grand Marnier.  I could eat this for dessert every day.  I love berries, and this was such a nice, light treat.  Palo's pastry chef then wowed me again with the vanilla & mango panna cotta.  They were all so good, I wanted to go back to the dessert table and have seconds of all of them, but I settled for just the mixed berries compote, because it was the lightest of the three dishes.

When we take our next cruise in December, my husband and I will definitely be going back to Palo for brunch and dinner, but this time on the Disney Magic.

Reservations for Palo can and should be made once your cruise has been paid in full and you reach your booking window.  You must be at least 18 to dine at Palo for brunch or dinner.  We received reservation confirmation cards for Palo on the first day of our cruise, that contained the reminder that dress pants and shirt are required for men, and no jeans may be worn.  Disney Cruise Line's website and my travel books do not state the hours of brunch, but seatings start at 10 am and run through at least 1 pm.

Related blog posts:

Palo Dinner

Gluten Free on the Disney Dream

Disney Cruise Line Gluten Free